Food Systems Communication Amid Compounding Crises: Power, Resistance, and Change 

Kathleen Hunt's picture
Type of Call: 
Call for Abstracts
October 23, 2020

The global pandemic, occurring amid the ongoing climate crisis, foregrounds the urgency of re-imagining the local, national, regional, and global organizing of food systems. Food system impacts are widespread, including myriad environmental and health effects of industrialized supply chains, the uneven distribution of food, unprotected essential food and farm workers, and the ubiquitous dispossession of land, water, and life sustaining resources. Contemporary food struggles render visible processes of expulsion from livelihoods that have long been catalyzed by colonialism, racial capitalism, and four decades of accelerated neoliberalism. The shocks felt in food systems today expose already existing vulnerabilities, yet also reveal new possibilities for cultivating resistance and communicating alternative food system relations.

This special research topic seeks to contribute to, expand, and deepen examinations of food systems through environmental and health communication by attending to historical and contemporary food system crises and the undercurrents revealed within them. Food systems communication centralizes the pragmatic and constitutive role communication plays in arranging, negotiating, and challenging meaning-making related to food systems, including their relations, processes, and outcomes. We seek contributions that foreground how inequality and exploitation permeate food systems and how communication can contribute to the cultivation of more just alternatives. A justice-based perspective takes up the roles of resistance and collective organizing in building both symbolic and material registers for the (re)organization of food systems at various scales. 

We invite analyses of power and resistance at the nexus of food and the environment, including those that address contemporary and historical crises, as well as tactics of food system organizing, policy, and transformation. Contributions at this nexus might address intersectional food system issues like health equity and the pandemic, environmental and climate justice, economic and labor issues, food and land access, farming and agricultural practices, among others. As inroads for potential foci, we offer the following broad-based questions: 

How are ecological, social, political, and economic crises related to communication within and about food systems?

How does communication shape public understandings about food system impacts within these crises?

How are dominant and marginalized food system participants engaging, navigating, and/or resisting these conditions?

How are organizing, care, and reimagination communicatively facilitated to cultivate more just food system futures?

We aim to catalyze transdisciplinary dialogue, and therefore welcome proposals from researchers in and outside of the field of communication. We also encourage submissions from community-based practitioners and frontline food system advocates. To support a broad range of contributors and types of contributions, we invite the following article types: original research papers, perspective papers, community case studies, policy briefs, and brief research reports.

Timeline for Submissions:

Abstracts of up to 1,000 words are due October 23, 2020.

Decisions about abstracts moving forward will be shared in November 2020.

Full papers will be due February 21, 2021.

Papers will undergo collaborative peer-review and will be published online on a rolling basis.

For inquiries about potential submission topics or types, please direct questions to Kathleen Hunt (, Constance Gordon (, and Mohan J. Dutta (